Monday, April 3, 2017

Trump is the Bonfire of All Our Vanities

Is it the best of times, with President Trump upsetting the administrative state apple cart, even if he isn’t draining the swamp? Or is it the worst of times, with the amateur Trump getting taken for a ride by the Deep State?

It depends on whether you read Breitbart or Jonah Goldberg.

Did Trump and the Russians steal the election, or were the Obamis surveilling the Russians so that they could spy on Trump.

It depends on whether you listen to DNC chair Tom Perez or Obama factotum Evelyn Farkas.

I’d say that the simple answer is: we don’t know. And the simplest reason is that when there is a great battle raging, nobody knows who will win, because it ain’t over till it’s over. See Battle of Waterloo, Duke of Wellington, winner: “The nearest run thing you ever saw.”

Waterloo ended the Second Hundred Years War in Britain’s favor and relegated France to second tier. But what if that nearest run thing had gone the other way? What if the Prussians hadn't arrived in the nick of time?

I think that disappointed Never-Trump conservatives are chiefly concerned that Trump will lead conservatives into the weeds, betraying conservative principle in one of two outcomes: either confirming big government by failing to curb entitlements or by surrendering the United States back to Obama-style Democrats and smashing the Republican Party to pieces.

And Democrats? They have raised up a generation of secular religious bigots, according to Jonathan Haidt, that have turned the university campus into
a holy space—where white privilege has replaced original sin, the transgressions of class and race and gender are confessed not to priests but to “the community,” victim groups are worshiped like gods, and the sinned-against are supplicated with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”
Victor Davis Hanson has more on that.

If you are an old-fashioned liberal -- and I assume there still are some -- your comfortable certainties are ruined. Why has this happened? Because the old-fashioned liberals surrendered their party to the leftist cultural Marxists that believe in bending the arc of history towards justice by any means necessary.

If you are an old-fashioned conservative the rise of Trump means that your comfortable certainties about reining in big government are ruined. As I wrote last summer, the gentlemanly conservatism of my adult life is over, because it failed to produce a majority at the polls. Call it GOPe or RINO or neocon or whatever. It’s over.

Conservatism failed because it failed to persuade the American people to abandon what we regard as the false promise of the big-government administrative state that lives by buying the voters with promises of free stuff.

Maybe the whole conservative agenda is a mirage. Maybe the basic socialization of humans is that we want some powerful lord or imperial president to rule over as as a neo-feudal baron with his grand promise that he will make us safe, paid for by the “rich” or the “one percent” or “evil corporations.”

But think how the world looks to liberals today on April Fools Day as I write this. We have the humiliating situation of FDR’s New Dealers voting for a billionaire. For thirty years, it now appears, the white working class has been dying of despair, and the evolved and educated liberals had no idea! What happened to the science? What happened to the people who cared about people? How could the white working class be flushing itself down the toilet and their wise rulers had no idea?

Now think on the bright side.

For conservatives we now have the white working class voting Republican. With the workers now on our team we can start to persuade them, and over time they will listen to our story. Why? Because we humans all look with a kindly eye on the agenda of our friends. Maybe, as time goes by, the white working class will agree to little tweaks to Social Security to allow the camel’s nose of private savings into the tent. Maybe they will allow tweaks to Medicare so that market prices can bring reality to the fantasy of third-party payments.

And then there are the immigrants of whom you’ve heard tell. I’m in Florida at a retirement community this week, bumping into immigrants working insane hours to get ahead. One is working as an aide because her dry-cleaning business failed. But already she is developing a website to sell women’s gym clothing. There’s the security guard working two jobs and sleeping three hours a night and going to school one day a week to get nursing credentials. Somebody forgot to tell them that the American Dream is a nightmare. People like that are going to be a huge disappointment to the Democrats in the years ahead.

Everyone wants the comfort of believing that the other guys are cheating: that’s what the Russia flap is all about, on both sides. Everyone wants the stop the other party from legislating their agenda: Democrats are enraged that the Republicans obstructed Obama; Republicans are enraged at today’s Democratic shenanigans.

The truth is that all our political vanities are burning up in flames, and nobody knows what the bonfire will burn up before it is done.

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